Today’s Training, Today’s Careers: Culinary Arts

Want a job that’s in demand in Central Texas? ACC is your source for affordable training that connects you to today’s careers. The college offers more than 235 degrees and certificates, many in high-demand fields.

ACC is profiling programs that prepare students for industries that call Central Texas home. At ACC, you can Start Here. Get There.

Culinary Arts

Everyone has to eat – so careers in the culinary arts are here to stay. The industry is not just stable; in the Austin area, there’s been significant growth. A wide variety of students – from recent high school graduates to people looking for a change of career – are responding to that growth by enrolling in ACC’s Culinary Arts Program.

At ACC, students don’t just learn about the culinary industry – they put their knowledge to work in the college’s state-of-the-art kitchen labs. Experienced chefs give students both a broad foundation in the industry and skills specific to their area of interest.

Find out more about the culinary profession and ACC’s Culinary Arts Program by checking out the following Q&A. You can also view a recent KVUE segment highlighting the program – or visit austincc.edu/info for information on other affordable career training paths.

Q&A with Chef Sandi Pepper, Chair of the Culinary Arts Program

What does a culinary arts professional do?

Chef Sandi Pepper, chair of the Culinary Arts Department. Photo by Janice Veteran.

Professionals in this field can do a variety of things related to food preparation or management in restaurants, hotels or resorts, corporate settings, catering businesses, bakeries, and more. Jobs can range from being a chef to menu planning to restaurant management. Students can also explore food consulting, food blogging, or working for the health department as an inspector.

What skills, interests, or abilities are associated with these jobs?

Culinary school is all about learning the techniques and methods necessary to develop a strong foundation in food preparation, costing, planning, and, ultimately, how to run a restaurant. Most people drawn to this profession are passionate about food and thrive off honing that craft long after graduation.

What subjects do students study for jobs in this field?

We strongly believe that our students need to have a solid foundation in proper technique and methodology, so all of our courses reinforce these concepts. Students have the opportunity to take courses that cover the basics of food and food science, as well as advanced courses such as breads and rolls, saucier, charcuterie, cake baking and production, and viticulture.

What is the key element of ACC’s Culinary Arts Program?

The most important thing is that we really recreate what people experience in the workforce. ACC offers two courses (American Regional Cuisine and International Cuisine) that give students the opportunity to run a lunchtime café and a fine dining bistro that are open to the public. We also offer students volunteer opportunities and events that provide them additional experience.

What kind of degree is needed for jobs in this field? Is a four-year degree required or preferred?

A four-year degree is not required to become a chef. Many companies are now requiring at least a two-year degree for management positions.

The credentials students earn through our program allow them to immediately enter the workforce in the food service industry. Students have multiple opportunities for their course of study:

  • Associate Degree in Culinary Arts
  • Certificates
    • Culinarian
    • Culinary Arts
    • Pastry Arts

How successful are ACC graduates at finding jobs in this field?

We get great feedback from the community that our graduates are skilled and ready to begin jobs in their chosen segment of the food industry. Ambitious students who are willing to pursue volunteer opportunities and really get involved generally have a leg up on the competition when entering the workforce.

Student Rolando Gonzalez checks an order at Le Bistrette, the program’s lunchtime cafe

Does ACC assist students with their job search?

We are frequently brought job opportunities from local hotels, restaurants, bakeries, and other businesses. We make those opportunities known to our students through an online job board and a bulletin board outside our kitchens.

What about paying for classes? Are there financial aid options?

Financial aid is available and can help cover the cost of tuition, uniforms, and equipment. ACC also has an excellent payment plan option at no additional cost that we encourage students to use. For more information, visit ACC Financial Aid.

How do people get started?

People interested in the Culinary Arts program should review our info page (austincc.edu/info/culinary) or our program website (austincc.edu/cularts). You can get started with classes this fall, so come talk to our department. You can tour our facilities, speak to faculty, and get more information on what career opportunities are out there.

Read the previous Q&A on ACC’s Game Development Institute.

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